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375,000 detained illegal immigrant family members released into US in 2019

U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehend illegal immigrants. (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
February 18, 2020

Of the 473,682 immigrants who were apprehended trying to cross the U.S. southern border with a family member in fiscal year 2019, border authorities ultimately released more than 375,000 into the U.S. interior.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) previously released their statistics for fiscal year 2019, but did not reveal the latest details about the number of illegal immigrants released into the U.S. until it responded to an information requests by the Washington Examiner.

In total, CBP arrested 851,508 people who illegally crossed the border between established points of entry in the 2019 fiscal year. Along with the 473,682 people who arrived to the U.S. in a family unit, another 76,000 unaccompanied minors were also apprehended.

Those individuals who were released were reportedly allowed to go anywhere within the country. The CBP reportedly began releasing a large portion of the immigrants between March and September.

The decision for the mass release was the result of issues transferring immigrants between CBP and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE did not have enough beds to accommodate the number of immigrant transfers and a 2015 court ruling barred the agency from detaining families for more than 20 days. Some 230,000 family members were transferred to ICE but later released.

An ICE official told Washington Examiner that CBP transferred some 373,770 people to ICE custody in 2019.

In total, ICE indicated it deported 267,258 people in 2019, drawing from CBP transfers and other immigration arrests. Among those 267,258 deportees, 5,702 were people who arrived as part of a family unit and 6,351 were unaccompanied children

As an effort to mitigate the effects of releasing hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants into the U.S. interior, CBP provided a document to the immigrants being released, known as a notice to appear. Those notices indicate the court date set for those immigrant families to appear before an immigration judge.

Those 375,000 illegal immigrants released into the U.S. with a notice to appear are number among approximately 3.2 million released by federal immigration authorities and now awaiting a court hearing to determine whether they will be removed from the country.

President Donald Trump has sought ways to stem the flow of immigrants into the country. In September the Trump administration announced the end of the policy of releasing illegal immigrants while immigration authorities await a trial date, known as “catch and release.”

Then-acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Kevin McAleenan warned that 90 percent of immigrants released on a pending court date ultimately skipped their hearing once they were released. McAleenan said the U.S. had established new rules that would allow DHS to detain migrant families together long enough to adjudicate their immigration case.